On Wednesday, May 11 at 8 p.m., members of the Improvisation Group of Lawrence University (IGLU) gathered in Harper Hall to perform a program of vocal improvisation. This performance was a divergence from the usual instrumental improvisation they take on. Lecturer of Music Matt Turner leads the group, which is comprised of more than 30 Lawrence students.
The program began unusually, as the members of IGLU were seated in the audience and the stage lighting was dimmed. Turner was seated at the front of the audience as well. One member of the group hummed a single note, and over the course of about five minutes, others joined, adding other notes and syllables. This strange beginning had a lasting ethereal effect that, in a way, suspended time for the listeners.
Turner continued the program by holding up brightly colored cards, each signifying which exercise the group would take on next. The ensemble took on different formations, from parallel lines to a semicircle to lying on the floor. After the opening exercise, the group took a turn from conventional singing sounds to effects made with their mouths. These effects ranged from pops and screams to whistling.
The impression this program left was somewhat strange, but listening to music that questions conventions is a critical part of being a well-rounded musician. This program did what Lawrence University aims to do as a whole—it confronted preconceptions and encouraged open minds. If listeners of this program were able to abandon the notion of normalcy, they were sure to learn and be challenged by its content.